European funding heads to Borders

THE Borders is to benefit from the latest batch of European funding announced earlier this week.

Around £14.3 million of European money is to be invested to support Scotland’s tourism sector, sustainable public transport, develop small and medium enterprises (SMEs), build links between research and business and provide training opportunities.

And one of the cash injections will see more than £400,000 awarded to a scheme to introduce real time passenger information on bus services in the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Aberdeenshire and West Lothian.

This enables passengers to monitor bus times via electronic signs at bus stops, online and using their mobile phones.

£100,000 will be given to SEStran and SWEStran to introduce the system on key routes between the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

Other Borders-bound money includes a slice of £1.1 million given to Visit Scotland by the European Regional Development Fund for new seasonal tourism campaigns in the south of Scotland.

This will support more than 1,100 tourism businesses in the area through marketing iniatives highlighting the natural, cultural and historical assets of the south of Scotland.

Commenting on the funding, Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “European funding is a central element of our Economic Recovery Plan. Scotland has rising employment, falling unemployment, and this latest package of funding will help build on improving economic conditions, with support for a wide variety of transport, enterprise and tourism projects.

“These awards support projects with the potential to sustain recovery, enhance local economies, build strong and sustainable economic growth and support the creation of thousands of new jobs.

“In particular the money will make a huge difference in assisting tourism businesses through the marketing of visitor attractions, enhance local transport connections and support ambitious Scottish companies - including SMEs and our digital and creative industries.

“These are all worthy initiatives that can make a vital contribution to economic growth across Scotland.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, added: “We are delighted that we have been successful with our applications for European funding, which will allow us to proceed with important marketing activity in conjunction with our Local Authority partners. It is vital that investment in tourism continues as we believe tourism is the key to economic recovery and growth.”

European Structural Funds are the significant source of European Union funding for economic development in Scotland. They can be used to support projects which boost economic growth and improve productivity while reducing economic and social disparities.